I hope your 2020 is off to a great start! I am super excited for this guest post from my friend, AMAZING teacher, and frequent partner in presenting crime, Zach. He’s one of the teachers I frequently lean on for advice, and he’s recently started his own blog. He’s picked a topic near and dear to a lot of us to talk about that he knows a lot about, especially being married to another music teacher (his wife Chelsea is , so let me hand you over to my good friend….
There are times (and I’m not ashamed to admit it) that being a music teacher isn’t fun. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, and you don’t get a lot of appreciation.
Which is why elementary music teacher burnout is so dangerous.
Music teacher burnout can creep up on you and the next thing you know, you’re irritable, not attending things with friends, and feeling helpless. But you can recharge yourself by taking time to calm yourself, prioritizing your teaching goals, connecting with other music teachers, going to PD, and picking up non-music hobbies.
You are NOT alone. We’ve all been there, but you can help yourself and knowing what to look for and having some tools to help you recharge yourself.
5 Simple Ways To Recharge From Burnout
This draining and seemingly lost feeling of burnout can be beaten with the proper tools.
While these 5 simple ways to help elementary music teacher burnout aren’t all that are out there, they are my 5 favorites.
#1 Take Time To Calm Down
When your students get upset, the first thing you may ask them to do is to take a deep breath and some quiet time.
Why should it be any different with us?
Taking 10 minutes to calm yourself at the end of every day is a great habit to get into. There are different ways you can do this too.
Here are some ways I’ve tried and heard others use with success:
- Silent, deep breathing
- Tai Chi
- Listening to a calm song
You’d be surprised how this small change changes your how outlook on how the day went.
#2 Prioritize Your Goals
A common reason for feeling teacher burnout is because the lesson or day didn’t go how you wanted it to. When this seems to happen day after day, I take a long look at my own teaching and evaluate.
Am I focusing on the important things in class I want to teach? Or do I get hung up on not getting everything done?
You don’t have to change how your lessons go, but take a beat (pun intended) to decide what’s most important. Chances are, you’ll feel better when you realize you are teaching what you need to.
#3 Connect With Other Music Teachers
Most elementary music teachers are the only ones in a school or even a whole district. This feeling of loneliness may make you feel even worse.
But there are many of us out there who understand what you’re going through.
Whether you post on Facebook or get a coffee group of nearby teachers together, it always makes us feel better when we’re around others who understand.
#4 Attend Professional Development
No, I’m not talking about that kind of PD. You know, the one where you sit glassy-eyed listening about how to properly use the school’s new math text.
Go to some music education professional developments. It not only allows you to connect with other music teachers, but you also get some fresh perspective on how to teach musical ideas.
Sometimes music PD can be few and far between, so following a good music teacher site like Melissa Stouffer’s Music Room or my own over at Dynamic Music Room can also be of huge help.
#5 Pick Up A Non-Music Hobby
Often, we tie music too closely with our identity. In college, you likely spent hours and hours every day doing nothing but music of some kind.
And that’s OK. But when your whole life is tied into music and the music doesn’t go well that day…it’s like your whole life doesn’t go well that day.
Embrace your interests outside of music! Personally, I enjoy reading fiction and playing chess.
I hope you find this information on burnout as an elementary music teacher helpful. What we do is so important for the students’ lives, we can’t afford to have teachers dropping out of the profession.
I understand it can be tough, but with some of this awareness and the tools to help, I hope you stay in the profession for a long time.
If you found my information helpful and want to hear more, head on over to the Dynamic Music Room by clicking the link. Also, if you haven’t subscribed to Mrs. Stouffer’s email list, what are you waiting for?
See you there!
Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Bay City Public Schools and the writer at DynamicMusicRoom.com. Zach presents regularly at conferences and serves as Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.